LARP – The Climb

Camp III, Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan Himalaya

We have arrived at Camp III, precariously perched 6,900 meters up on a cliff-face high above the Tarphel Valley of Bhutan. In an age of well-trodden paths, no human being has ever been higher on this peak than we are right now. This is a secret first ascent without the knowledge of Bhutanese authorities, who have forbidden climbing for religious reasons since 1994. No one knows we are here. If we descend into Bhutan we will be arrested. If anything goes wrong, there is no one to rescue us.

Two will summit in the morning.

For the six of us on the slopes of the Gangkhar Puensum massif, summiting ensures a place in climbing history. We all want a shot, but only two of us can make it to the top. Who will it be? And what fate awaits the “lucky” ones above 7000 meters?

Check it out: http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/the-climb/

At October 15th 2014, I played my first larp in Canada, which was The Climb by Jason Morningstar. The game is about a clandestine climb to a virgin peak located in Bhutan, Himalayas. The game lasted for 90 minutes plus 30 minutes of explanations.

Before I talk about the game, for me larp is very important, and I was a little scared since I have to play it for the first time in a different language and also in a different culture.

There are six characters in the game: two professional climbers, the expedition’s leader, a doctor, a meteorologist, and the financial supporter. I played one of the professional climbers, that actually it is the best climber.

The facilitators were Mo Jave and Stuart Candy. We played the game in the black box theater of Ocad University. The only scenario we used were 3 tables that was the tents, each tent can hold three people inside. During the game we have to stay inside the tents since the weather is terribly cold. We can walk to other tents, but we should not be outside for more than a couple of moments.

Before the game start we received our characters sheets, which we chose who we want to play. It character sheet comes with two options to be deal in the future. Every player has to decide between the tow options and put it in an envelope. We were informed that three people will move to another camp, and than two will summit. The people who go to the next camp will have to deal with the situations put in the envelope. My two options were: The harness of one of the characters is halfway cut and will break close to the peak. The other option was an ice tool that can save the group of some problem. I chose the damaged harness.

The game starts with the expedition at the base camp. We are stuck in the base camp because of the weather, and we know, before the game start, that at 45 minutes is going to happen a window in the weather and the three people can go up to the next camp.

My character was completely healthy and ready to go to the next camp. The other climber who I don’t like because he left me for die in a previous expedition was coughing and this makes the doctors advise the leader about his health. The doctor and the meteorologist were ok to stay behind, but the expedition financial supporter was eager to go to the peak. The leader convinced the supporter that he can’t go because we had to ensure the safety of the group and send the most qualified people to summit. Also if somebody summit, everybody will receive the credits. The climber with the coughing was selected to stay behind since he was not in good healthy. So, the leader, the doctor and myself were the ones who climb to the next camp.

When we arrived at the next camp, we actually moved to a small room outside the theater, we opened the envelop with all the players’ choices. Our options were:

  • We find a flag saying that nobody had been higher that this point, which is a moral a question about to respect or not the Bhutanese religion beliefs.
  • A halfway cut harness that will brake close to the peak.
  • A loving letter from one of the characters’ partner to another character, someone was cheating.
  • A save from any kind of danger situation.
  • One of the crew will start have health problem, and if he/she don’t get treatment from the doctor he will die.
  • Someone will lose some fingers because of the cold.

As players, we spread out the options and discuss a possible sequence of facts. First we will find the flag and discuss about it. Than we decide that at next camp the doctor will start feeling seek, than he will find the letter from his wife to the leader of the expedition. The next fact will be the climb to the peak, which the leader will fall because the damaged harness, but will survive by holding on the hope, and I will lose my fingers trying to rescue the leader.

Once every action was decided we started to role-play each situation. We decided to take the flag to the peak. The doctor started to feel sick and as the leader try to help him he accidentally dropped the affair letter, and the doctor found about that he had been cheated. They had a little fight and finished it by the doctor saying to us to move to the peak and finished this as soon as we can. As soon we moved on to climb the peak, the doctor, who stayed behind, moved back to the theater in an isolated place. The leader and I moved on to climb the peak, than the accident happened and I saved him and lose some fingers from my left hand. After we conquered the peak, we put the flag and took a self to register the moment. We climb down to the camp and found the doctor dead. We buried him and went back to the base camp.

When we arrive at the base camp, everybody started to question about the doctor and what happened. The supporter kind of accused the leader to kill the doctor because he discovered about his affair with the doctor’s wife.

This game is very interesting because isn’t necessary any special costume or scenario. Also, isn’t necessary a specific person to organize it, the facilitator can play the game. I would say this game is a very good one to have in handy to play anywhere without almost no preparation.

One thing that makes me confused was about the gender of the characters. As foreigner, sometimes is hard to me to distinguish between male and female names, and I also was not sure how should I call the other characters because the players’ gender mess it up with the names.

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